Owning your dream house is one thing, but maintaining it can be quite a task. One of the most neglected areas when it comes to cleanliness and maintenance is the gutter system. Have you ever imagined what could happen if gutters are not cleaned?
If a gutter is not cleaned, it can get clogged due to the accumulation of leaves, dirt, and debris. It leads to water stagnation and overflow and prevents the drainage system from working correctly. It also causes damage to the house over extended periods of time.
If you do not clean a gutter, leaves, dirt, and debris will eventually accumulate in them. As a result, water that is meant to flow away will get trapped and remain stuck in the gutters. This in turn traps small amounts of water in the gutter, causing them to stagnate.
When the wet weather season returns, this mixture of dirt and leaves forms gunk that prevents the smooth flow of water. As a result, this causes the water to spill onto the roof and sides of the house, as well as onto the landscape and driveways.
The stagnating water can weaken the structure of your house itself and cause damage as extreme as causing it to collapse. Read on as I answer numerous questions related to gutter damage and maintenance.
I hope that by the end of this article, you take cleaning your gutters as a serious job and ensure you do it on a regular basis to keep your house safe and your surroundings clean.
I have also included efficient methods of doing so and the tools you will need to make this a hassle-free chore.
Can clogged gutters cause damage?
A clogged gutter can cause water damage to the roof and foundation. It can cause the wood to rot and the gutter system to collapse. It can promote the growth of algae and lead to pest and insect infestations. It can also cause damage to your landscape and driveway.
Water damage to the roof includes the faster deterioration of the roof shingles and water insulation, which can lead to water seepage.
On the other hand, foundational damage includes wetting clay, sand, and dirt under the house, which causes the foundation itself to shift and lead to cracks or the entire structure buckling under the weight.
Stagnating water in the gutter will lead to the wood being damp for longer periods of time. As a result, it will eventually rot away. This can be extremely detrimental for houses with wooden foundations and structures.
The additional weight of water remaining in the gutters can also cause unnatural stresses on the external frame, causing the gutter to bend away from the roof. This can cause damage to your gutter as well as the outer lining of the roof.
Damp wood and stagnating water attract the growth of algae, which not only looks bad but has the potential of weakening the structure. Pests and insects are also attracted by these conditions, reducing the hygiene of the house and putting the occupants at risk of diseases.
Gutters that are not cleaned can end up sending dirty water to your landscape. This can affect the health of your lawn and attract the growth of weeds.
In winters, the water freezes over and becomes ice, which can end up sliding onto your driveway, causing damage to the vehicles parked there as well as the driveway itself.
How often should you clean gutters?
You must clean the gutters twice every year at least. If you live in an area surrounded by trees, then it is better to clean your gutter once every three months.
It is important to clean your gutters at least twice a year. If you live in an area surrounded by pine trees, then it is advisable to clean your gutters more frequently.
This is because pine trees shed needles all year round, which can end up settling in the gutters, causing them to clog. In such situations, cleaning the gutters every three months is ideal.
Houses at higher elevations with gutters must ensure that their gutters remain clean throughout the winter.
If the water fails to flow smoothly in these conditions, there is a high possibility of it turning into ice, causing damage to the driveway, gutter, and surrounding landscape.
How do you tell if your gutters need cleaning?
Visually inspecting the gutter is the best to confirm that the gutter needs to be cleaned. Check for water collecting by the house or on the driveway. Check if there is a sudden increase in insects and rodents around your house.
Visual inspection of the gutter will give you the exact idea of how dirty your gutters are. You can also perform flow tests to see if the existing dirt and debris are causing spillage due to the water overflowing. If this happens, then it is time to clean the gutter.
Another sign that your gutter needs to be cleaned is when you notice water accumulation around the foundation and in the driveway. This is a telltale sign that the water is not draining correctly, which is most likely due to gunk caused by debris in the gutter.
If you feel like there are more insects and pests like rats and cockroaches than before, then there is a high chance that they are breeding in your dirty gutter.
The stagnating water and filthy conditions are perfect nesting conditions for them. This is an indication to you that you need to clean the gutter.
Why is it important to keep gutters clean?
Gutters are critical in draining water away from the house. Cleaning the gutter allows it to function properly and prevents damage to the roof and foundation. It also prevents the growth of insects and mold in and around the house.
Gutters play a critical role in draining water away from the house. This not only prevents the growth of harmful organisms and insects in and around the house but also plays a crucial role in protecting the structural integrity of your house.
Failing to maintain and clean your gutters can lead to terrible consequences mentioned above, which can cost a lot of money and put the inhabitants of the house at risk of disease as well.
What time of year should you clean your gutters?
The most advisable time to clean your gutters is towards the end of winter (early spring) and towards the end of summer (late fall). As winter ends, winter storms are less of a nuisance and the weather gets warmer.
However, with the onset of spring comes the rain, for which your gutters must be prepared. As a result, it is best to clean your gutter than to allow water to drain properly during the rains.
During fall, most trees shed their leaves and grow new ones. Most of the leaves that have been shed end up settling in gutters, which causes them to function improperly.
Cleaning them out before winter begins allows you to restore normalcy to the system. It also prevents water from stagnating, which then becomes ice as the mercury drops.
What is the fastest way to clean gutters?
The fastest way to clean a gutter by yourself is by using a gutter scooper and a jet hose. A gutter scooper is a tool that is designed to scoop leaves, gunk, and dirt from within the gutter. Its unique shape helps you access the gutter easily and clean it without too many hassles.
Using a jet hose after taking out the gunk helps you wash away tough gunk that may require more force to remove. It also helps one identify blocks further along the gutter or ensure that the water flow through the gutter system is back to normal.
Essential equipment for gutter cleaning?
- Ladder: The ladder is a must-have if you are looking to clean gutters located at a height. Ensure that the ladder is firmly planted into the ground on a flat surface and is capable of supporting your weight as well as that of your tools.
Try not to lean the ladder against the gutter itself, and seek assistance from a second person if required. Or you can use specific ladders for cleaning gutters, that are long, foldable, and have a wider base so they don’t slip around.
- Protective equipment: Do not clean your gutters without protective equipment. If you are working from a ladder, ensure you have a protective helmet to protect you in the event of a fall.
Wear eye protection to keep your eyes protected from dirt and startled insects trying to escape. Protective gloves will help protect your fingers from sharp debris, metal objects, and insect droppings.
- Vacuum cleaner: Having a vacuum cleaner helps you simplify the process of collecting the dirt from your gutter as you do not have to spend extra time collecting and preparing the gunk for disposal in your local landfill.
- Gutter scoop/spatula: A gutter scoop will help you manually scoop out the gunk from the gutter, making it a very efficient tool in gutter cleaning. If you do not own a dedicated scoop, you can also use a rubber spatula to help you collect the debris.
- Water hose: A water hose will help you wash away any loose dirt or debris, allowing for the free flow of water within the gutter. It will also help wash away gunk from areas of the gutter that are hard to access.
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